A soldier from Waynesboro split from his loved ones by a deployment to Kuwait is home Friday night. But when he went to surprise his daughter at school, there was a big surprise for him too.
Virginia Army National Guard Judge Advocate Correy Smith expected to bring a smile to his daughter Julia's face by surprising her a few days early.
"I've been dying to hug him ever since he left. I knew he was coming but I didn't know when exactly."
But her Westwood Hills Elementary School class had its own surprise for him. Teachers and Julia's classmates put together a big welcome for a family that has sacrificed a lot.
"That's the most difficult thing. The job is a good job, it's a great experience. It's just very hard to be away from your family for eight months,” Smith said.
Correy’s wife and Julia’s mother, Kelly Smith, gleefully anticipated the homecoming.
"Julia's teacher planned all of this in the last couple of days and really wanted to make this special for Julia and for Correy to come back together at school and be reunited,” she said.
But the moment was bittersweet. The family, already separated a few years ago by a tour to Afghanistan, has to say goodbye again in two weeks.
"It's going to be very hard, and we've done it before. When I get back I know I'll only have about three months before I come back home,” Correy said.
"Being able to reach out and touch each other, it's a lot more special to be together,” Kelly said.
The next farewell will hurt, but the trio has new memories for the inevitable separation.
The family will visit other relatives for the next few days before a special week-long trip to Disney World.
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